News Update 08/10/2003

Dalit killed for entering temple

Bhitasi village, Anand : Not everyone in this Gujarati village was
shocked when a 28-year-old Dalit man died on Friday after being
thrashed severely by upper caste residents for sitting in the
verandah of a temple here.

 Police officials and social workers say such incidents occur
regularly, but only a handful are reported as members of the lower
caste community still fear the wrath of the upper caste residents.

 Raman Chaturbhai Vankar in Bhitasi village near Anklav town was
allegedly severely beaten up by members of the upper caste community
on July 25 for sitting in the verandah of Bhathiji temple.

 The doctor's certificate states that Raman suffered only simple
injuries, had no internal injuries and would be fine within a week.
But Raman died on Friday.

 The four accused — Suresh Lakha Bhoi, Bhikha Chimanraj, Asha Rama
Bhoi and Mahendrasinh Jaswantsinh Raj — were arrested but later
released on bail.

 With tears welling in her eyes, Raman's sister Vimla said, ``We had
gone to the fields and sat down in the temple verandah as he was
tired. For this, both of us were verbally abused and then Raman was
badly beaten up by them (accused). Raman's death is also due to the
negligence of the doctor, who told us he would be fine and gave a
certificate saying his injuries weren't serious.''


Minister apologises for remark
By Our Staff Correspondent MYSORE AUG. 10. Bowing to pressure from
dalit organisations, the Minister of State for Agro Processing, Raju
Gowda, today tendered an unconditional apology at Kollegal, near
here, for having allegedly insulted a dalit officer recently. The
apology from the Minister came after calls from dalit organisations
to observe a "Black Day" on August 15, and boycott of the Minister at
public functions. Mr. Raju Gowda tendered the apology in front of the
Assistant Director of Animal Husbandry, Basavalingaiah, at the taluk
panchayat office. Leaders of the organisations were also present. The
Minister had allegedly insulted Dr. Basavalingaiah during a review
meeting at Kollegal on August 2. Requesting the organisations not to
launch an agitation, Dr. Basavalingaiah said Mr. Raju Gowda should be
pardoned as he had tendered an apology. Addressing the leaders, Mr.
Raju Gowda said he did not abuse the officer, but had only spoken in
a lighter vein. Recalling his association with Dr. Basavalingaiah,
the Minister said that he joined politics with the late Puttaiah, the
elder brother of Dr. Basavalingaiah. Since both hailed from the same
village, he was close to the officer, he added. "I have become a
prominent politician of the district with the blessings of dalit
voters as Vokkaligas were only around 3,500 in Hanur constituency.
When I am indebted to dalits, how can I insult a dalit officer? he
asked. The agitators were pacified after the Minister with folded
hands said: "If my remarks against the officer have hurt the feelings
of the dalit community, I tender my apology unconditionally."

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